One revelation was that listening to a complex piece of fine music engages the mind and the spirit just as thoroughly as reading a book or a thoughtful article. An auditorium filled with raptly listening people demonstrates this. Music has mood and narrative qualities and rhythm and coloration of tone and is a many splendored thing. It has mathematical and spatial qualities in the intervals between sounds. Some parts are featured and some supportive and subdued. The differing themes are introduced with repetition and variation. Notes are enhanced with harmony and counterpoint for the delight of the hearer. There is a swell and an ebb of sound and sometimes dissonance.
In viewing a painting some of the same types of thinking come into play, but with a painting we can bring our eyes back again to the passages we are seeing and reinforce the relationships we are absorbing. Music is totally ephemeral and passes though the mind and out again… we must retain a mental image of it in order to relate parts before and after each phrase and passage for the composition to have meaning and shape.
Music has the capacity to evoke memories of what has been and images of what may become. Music can lift the listener from the present time and circumstance to spend reverie in whatever place the mind chooses. Learning to listen to fine music is a skill worth cultivating. Think how valuable this magic carpet can be in our lives as a release from boredom or pain or stress!
Some who are learned in science studying our brains tell us that being exposed to fine music early in life builds enhanced connections in the minds of children somewhat akin to being raised with several languages. As my little ones pat chubby hands to Ravel’s Bolero I can see the little synapses forming behind bright excited eyes. They will grow to appreciate more sophisticated works in time. Music is a nice gift for Christmas to the people you love. e